How a High Unemployment Rate Can Affect Your Finances | theSkimm

What High Unemployment Can Mean for Your Wallet

Published on: Sep 17, 2020fb-roundtwitter-roundemail-round

Back in February, unemployment was near record lows. That’s a great thing for the economy and anyone who wants a raise or new job. But then the COVID-19 pandemic came to America and that all changed. Fast. After hitting a new high in April, the unemployment rate fell to 8.4% in August. Finally lower than it was at the height of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, but definitely not ideal. 

Here’s what a high unemployment rate can mean for your wallet.

It may be harder to get a new job. When a lot of people are out of work, competition heats up for available roles. Which may be few and far between in some industries. Psst...here’s how to make sure your application stands out.

Your company could freeze pay bumps. High unemployment often goes hand in hand with economic downturns. When the economy’s bad, people generally spend less money. That hurts businesses...that probably won’t be in a hurry to hand out more money to employees. You can still ask. Just be prepared to hear “not now.”

Uncle Sam might help out more. During really tough times – like now – the government could get more generous with things like direct payments (hi, $1,200 stimulus checks) and unemployment benefits. Trump’s recent executive action means you could get a few hundred added to your weekly payment. Check your state’s labor website for the latest.

Related: How to Adjust Your Budget If You Lose Your Job

theSkimm: The COVID-19 pandemic has had a ripple effect on the job market and millions of Americans’ incomes. If you’ve lost your job, find out if you qualify for unemployment benefits and apply ASAP. If you still have a job, you may not be able to get a bigger paycheck. But saving more now can help ease the pain if you need that safety net later.


Want more Skimm Money?

Say ‘hi’ to our weekly newsletter. Every Friday, we break down the news and info you need to make smarter money decisions.

I'm in


Skimm'd by: Ivana Pino, Elizabeth Smith, and Elyse Steinhaus